PHRC059 : Dedication to Arsinoe Thea Philadelphos, Lower Egypt (Alexandria ?) - Egypt (270-240 BC) Miniature altar
Permanent ID http://s.phrc.it/phrc059
Photos 1-2: Photos of the stone, from Schreiber 2011, Tf. 53, Figg. 2-3
Text constituted from: Schreiber 2011, p. 188 (SEG LXI 1538).
Other editions: Breccia 1905, p. 120, no. 1; SB I 434.
See also: Stähler 1980, 50-51; Caneva 2020a, p. 26, n. 12, cat. 61.
Images: Schreiber 2011, Tf. 53, Fig. 2-3.
Further bibliography: on 'horned' altars with akroteria in Ptolemaic Egypt, see Burr Thompson 1973, 35-39, 59-61; Soukiassian 1983; Quaegebeur 1993. On incense burning in Hellenistic ruler cults, Caneva 2022 (forthcoming).
Online record: TM 6507
The dedication is inscribed on a small incense burner, carved in the shape of a miniature horned altar. Horned altars are often depicted on Alexandrian oinochoai and on Egyptian stelae representing scenes of Ptolemaic ruler cults (Burr Thompson 1973, p. 35-39, 59-61; Caneva 2013, p. 294, 303-304, 315). The support is similar to our PHRC 051, from Alexandria, but in this case the shorter dedication occupies only one face of the object and does not mention either the donor or King Ptolemy II as a co-recipient. The formula is therefore comparable to several dedications only addressed to Arsinoe Philadelphos in the genitive and inscribed on portable altars, blocks, and plaques throughtout the Ptolemaic empire (for a list see Caneva 2014a, p. 109-115, cat. 1-58; Addenda in Caneva 2020a, p. 26, n. 12, cat. 59-63, and Caneva 2020e, cat. 64). The irregular ductus of the inscription and the separation of words across lines finds parallels among various low-quality specimens of these inscriptions (see Caneva 2020a, p. 45, and Caneva 2020e). Our text can also be grouped with a limited number of dedications where the common denomination Arsinoe Philadelphos is completed by the term Thea. This feature only appears on three other inscriptions from Egypt (Caneva 2014a, cat. 4 from Alexandria, 12 from Thebaide, 14 of unknown provenance).
Small altars bearing a dedication in the genitive are often linked to the household cult of Arsinoe Philadelphos (Robert 1966; Caneva 2014a). However, other interpretations are possible. A small altar of this type could be used during journeys, and/or be dedicated in a sanctuary (see commentary to PHRC 051).